May 16, 2016

Windy Ride


I heard a flurry of activity just beyond my front yard. On the other side of the irrigation canal is a huge oak tree. Blue jays could be heard squawking and red-tailed hawks made their own unique
communication sounds. This was becoming a routine in that tree - enough of a routine to send me into the house to grab my binoculars. I quickly found one of the hawks sitting on her nest! The nest was placed in the crook of a thick, oak tree branch located almost at the top of the tree. Coincidence placed the nest in a small break in the oak leaves, giving me a great view.

Over the course of the next few days, I made a routine of watching her nest. What a great place to live at the top of a big oak tree, overlooking the entire farm. Her mate routinely brought back food, mostly rodents and a few snakes. The resident blue jays always loudly squawked when more food arrived. Some of the blue jays dive-bombed the hawk in her nest hoping to knock her off balance
to rob some food. She never paid any attention to them.

A few days later, the wind picked up. Dust filled the house. Extra hours of irrigation water were added to all the crops. At the end of dealing with all of the problems the wind caused for the farm, I walked home and thought about the red-tail and her nest. Through my binoculars, I first got a close-up of the oak leaves. The wind was howling, blowing the leaves back and forth, leaving a rippling texture like the ocean. After a few moments, I found the nest in the top of the tree. The hawk was nestled down, keeping as low a profile as possible.

She was doing a good job staying on her nest considering the swaying her home was enduring. The wind was blowing the oak tree in such a manner that the nest was swinging up four feet, then down four feet in a continuous motion. With each sway, the hawk’s tail feathers moved to keep her balance. As the sun went down, I thought about what a terrible place she picked for her nest.

Through the night, gusts of wind woke me up. Lying in bed, I thought about our crops and the hawk’s nest. Visions of the nest falling out of the tree and its contents scattering in the wind (eggs or babies) were not difficult to imagine. Daylight came, and I nervously walked outside with my binoculars to see how she did. I was relieved and impressed to see that she was still there, weathering the wind and protecting her babies as the tree branch continued to swing four feet up and four feet down.

Enjoy your boxes this week. I write about nature to illustrate how we as an organic farm are preserving our natural resources and living in a harmonious ecosystem.